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Doors, Windows and Mirrors in Children’s Literature

Doors, Windows and Mirrors in Children’s Literature

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There are many different genres of books written in children’s literature every year. Each year several of those books join the ranks of the best and win awards like the Newberry and Caldecott Medals. Most children enjoy all types of books with rhyming and predictable words, excellent art work and stories they can relate to. Children will sit for a long time listening to someone read to them and beg for “just one more” at bedtime.

When choosing books for children it is important to keep several things in mind. Is the book a window, a door, or a mirror into the world? A window-type book is one that engages children into imagining what the world looks like in places and circumstances that they have never experienced. For instance, children living in New York City can imagine what children living in Mumbai enjoy and how they play and how they live. There is no limit to what children can experience while reading window books.

“Books and doors are the same things. You open them, and you go through into another world.” Jeanette Winterson who wrote those words is an award-winning English writer who wrote the book, Oranges are not the Only Fruit” about a sensitive girl rebelling against conventional values. Books that open doors often invite children to challenge their imagination. Books that focus on fantasy, science fiction, ethic and moral issues awaken the thought processes that children use to question reality, figure things out, and determine their particular tastes in reading material.

Mirror-type books are those that reflect an image of the reader or the children being read to. It is extremely important for children to see characters they can identify with. Things like physical appearances and personal characteristics that are similar to themselves must be in the books you choose to share with children. Carlos Ruiz Zafòn author of The Shadow of the Wind said, “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside of you.”

Today, there are books with stories about different types of families, inclusion, and diversity, behavioral and moral issues that other children are facing. Children should be exposed to stories that occur in homes, schools and places in urban, rural and suburban communities where families live, work and play.

I admire Marley Dias who loves getting lost in a book. She was determined to find children’s books that had black girls as the main characters. She set her goal at 1,000. Over time, she exceeded that goal by thousands. Take a look at her work at #1000blackgirlbooks.

Marley Dias and her collection of books.
Marley Dias and her collection of books.

Help keep books alive by choosing windows, doors, and mirrors for the children you read to. Your children will have a magnificent imagination, well-developed problem-solving skills and a healthy sense of themselves.

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